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Sherman passing out sage advice
In his first 12 months as a member of the Seahawks, Richard Sherman has shown that he can intercept passes, breakup passes, blanket wide receivers who are much more experienced than he is and dance. Definitely dance.
Sunday, the second-year cornerback who became a sudden and successful starter last season also displayed maturity and leadership beyond his years during a mock game that highlighted the team’s sun-drenched training camp practice.
When Jeremy Lane put too much extra in the extracurricular activity after a play and was banished from the practice field by coach Pete Carroll, it was Sherman who put his arm around the rookie cornerback on the sideline to explain why Lane’s actions were a lane violation. Later, after tight end Kellen Winslow caught a sideline pass and tossed the ball at the defender, it again was Sherman who was the voice of reason for his more-experienced teammate.
What gives? How can the free-spirited, dance-at-the-drop-of-a-beat, fast-talking Sherman suddenly morph into a sage provider of just the right advice at just the right time?
“It’s about maturation, things like that,” the 24-year-old Sherman said after practice. “You go out there and play well. Coach has been emphasizing it. So we’re just going out there and trying to do the things he emphasizes – staying quiet and just playing the game.”
To understand just how impressive Sherman’s actions where, it helps to revisit just where he’s coming from – and where he has come from.
He went to Stanford out of Dominguez High School – rather than USC, where Carroll was the coach – because he wanted to prove that a kid from Compton could make it at Stanford. And, he went to Stanford as a wide receiver, only moving to cornerback prior to his senior season.
A fifth-round draft choice by the Seahawks last year, Sherman was playing behind veteran Marcus Trufant and Walter Thurmond, a promising fourth-round pick from the 2010 draft, when training camp finally opened after the 136-day lockout. But when Trufant and then Thurmond went down with season-ending injuries, it was Sherman who stepped in to intercept four passes and finish second the team in passes defensed with 17. Despite being surrounded by three defensive backs who ended up playing in the Pro Bowl – safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor and cornerback Brandon Browner – scouts around the league will tell you that it was Sherman who was playing the best of the four by the end of the season.
Carroll definitely noticed Sherman’s after-the-play contributions during the Sunday practice where the defense dictated the tempo.
On the Lane situation, Carroll offered, “It was a great opportunity to send a message. So I sent the guy in, like you get thrown out of the game. We just make the illustration how clear it is what that impact is of losing your cool. I’m not upset at him; I’m upset at the guys that didn’t keep him from doing that.”
Sherman was not on the field at the time, so had to wait until Lane got to the sideline to get in his ear.
“We have a real clear mindset about what we’re trying to do, and we did not get it done at all,” Carroll said. “We did not execute right there. The guy loses his mind and goes crazy; somebody else on our side has got to stop him from that happening.”
On the Winslow situation, Carroll said, “There was a cool moment in this thing. Kellen caught a ball on the sideline and somebody banged him out of bounds and he got up and kind of threw the ball close to the guy. Richard, of clear mind, got to him and said, ‘Wait a minute, they could throw a penalty on you right there.’
“That was an illustration. That was awesome that Richard reminded him. That was a really good moment for our team. That’s as important to me as learning from what happened with the fight. We’re thinking, and we have to get smarter. We have to play ahead of ourselves.”
Sherman’s reaction to Carroll’s reaction? He just smiled.
“I can play whichever way they ask me to play,” he said. “Being vocal is fun. I do it whenever I can. But I can play quiet as a house mouse and still play well.”
It’s that old the-more-things-you-can-do deal. For Sherman, that includes covering, intercepting, dancing and also leading by example and words.
“It’s all about having a good time,” he said. “I love my job and it’s fun while you’re out there.”
And the coaches are loving all the things Sherman brings while he’s out there.